As Dirk Nowitzki stepped away from the microphones Thursday morning, Luka Doncic took his place in a step that was loaded with unintentional symbolism, and it was apparent that the heir doesn’t grasp what just happened.
The standard that Dirk set as a player and a professional is officially impossible. Leading the team in scoring and a few stats is one thing; carrying a franchise is another.
Luka will deservedly, and easily, win the NBA’s Rookie of the Year. He is fun to watch. And if he does not work at this, then all of this hype and hope will be a Hefty bag of wasted potential.
Just because a guy wins the ROY doesn’t mean he’s capable of carrying a franchise. In 1999, Dirk didn’t win the ROY. Vince Carter did. Plenty of guys win an ROY who never led their franchise to anything more than a playoff berth, or less.
“(The season) was hard, but we are building something special,” Luka said during the Mavs’ season-ending exit interviews Thursday. “I want to win the (ROY), but I don’t care. I am going home and will turn off my social media. You’re not going to find me.”
When asked if he planned on recruiting players during free agency, Luka said no. That that’s someone else’s job.
Not the right answer.
The Dallas Mavs are not all on Luka, but they are.
On Thursday, Luka looked and sounded dog tired. He has for the past month.
His conditioning will have to improve, the same for his strength. And his decision-making with the ball. And his shot selection.
In a few months, the Mavs will look nothing like they did to finish the season. Kristaps Porzingis should be available when next season starts. He immediately makes them better defensively and in rebounding. The Mavs need a shooter and a rebounder. At least.
Coach Rick Carlisle’s greatest task will be to eliminate the stupid kid from Luka’s game, while maintaining the kid element that makes him so good.
Doncic is only 20, and just as he has not mastered the English language, his game needs work, too.
He can hide this summer, but once the season starts, with no Dirk to block out any lights, Doncic has nowhere to hide.
One Question: Dirk Nowitzki is a legit 7-footer. In a game of giants, he’s taller than most; not a complaint, but yet his signature shot is a fadeaway?
Why I Missed Dirk’s Final Home Game
Speaking of Dan Jenkins ... as those in our new black hole know, Dirk Nowitzki on Tuesday played his final home game, which I skipped. I was sad not to see it in person, but I am far more grateful for the reason I didn’t.
About a week after Dan Jenkins died, his wife, June, invited me to join her at the TCU Scholarship banquet that she and her husband regularly attended. The couple have sponsored four TCU scholarships for years.
I didn’t bother to look at the date because I didn’t care. I was not saying no.
For a plethora of reasons that you are smart enough to figure out, the invite and the evening meant everything to me.
I even learned something about Dan’s career: His best-selling book, “Semi-Tough” was originally optioned not to be a movie, but a Broadway play.